William Porterfield’s debut for the North West Warriors and his unlucky dismissal were overshadowed by a last ball victory against the Northern Knights which handed Leinster Lightning the Inter-provincial Cup for a fourth successive season.
The Warriors needed eight to win from the 30th and final over, of the rain reduced game, with the last pair at the wicket. Ross Allen missed the first two but hit Nikolai Smith’s next over the rope at long-off and then took a single to tie the scores with two balls remaining.
Last man David Scanlon hit the fifth ball straight back to the bowler but although the last went to Greg Thompson at short mid-on, the batsmen had to run, with nothing to lose. The Waringstown skipper fumbled the ball and then, from four yards, somehow missed the stumps with his throw to give Warriors their thrilling victory.
The visitors had tried their best to keep the competition alive until the Knights visit Lightning in the final game next month by losing three wickets in five balls. Andy McBrine was caught on the boundary going for his third six in the over and then Andy Britton went for a big swing against Nathan Smith and was bowled.
Most bizarrely of all, Steve Lazars then tried to hit his first ball out of the ground and an excellent catch by James McCollum running in at mid-wicket left the Warriors nine down and, as they did not even attempt a run, Scanlon in strike.
Smith, in his first representative game since his Ireland call-up for next week’s Intercontinental Cup game against Netherlands, showed why he had been picked with a six overs spell which brought three wickets for 14 runs, just one coming off that penultimate over.
The Ireland hopeful was also responsible for the wicket of his captain next week. Porterfield, playing his first inter-provincial for 14 years, had announced his arrival with a third ball six over mid-wicket and a couple more singles took him to eight from eight balls. But before he could face his ninth, he was run out by Smith who deflected the ball onto the stumps to leave the out-of-favour Warwickshire professional stranded, backing up.
When a direct hit from Shannon ran out another international, Stuart Thompson, in Smith’s next over the Warriors, chasing 168, were 42 for three but Johnny Thompson put them on course for victory with a run-a-ball 51, his fourth six to go with three other boundaries, bringing up his 50.
The Knights have only themselves to blame for losing this one, however. Nikolai Smith and Chris Dougherty put on 76 for the first wicket in 13 overs, yet they were bowled out with five balls unused for just 91 more — spun out by the three Warriors spinners who finished with eight wickets, taking seven for 55 in the last 10 overs.
McBrine, who has lost his place in the Ireland squad, saw his first two overs go for 18, including the only six of the opening stand, but on his return he tempted Dougherty into a reverse sweep which ended up in the hands of short third man and after Shannon and McCollum had each hit Johnny Thompson out of the ground in the same over, the Warriors skipper called up Lazars and Allen and they did the rest.
Meanwhile, Graeme Kennedy, the Player of the Tournament at the U19 World Cup qualifying, who put club before province yesterday, can say his decision was justified as Ballyspallen beat Newbuildings by six wickets to stay in contention for promotion to the Premiership next season; Kennedy scored nine and took 1-32.